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While the City Slept: A Love Lost to Violence and a Young Man's Descent into Madness

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  2,683 ratings  ·  383 reviews
“Binged Making a Murderer? Try . . . [this] riveting portrait of a tragic, preventable crime.” —Entertainment Weekly

A Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter’s gripping account of one young man’s path to murder—and a wake-up call for mental health care in America

On a summer night in 2009, three lives intersected in one American neighborhood. Two people newly in love—Teresa Butz
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 2nd 2016 by Viking
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3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,683 ratings  ·  383 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Dec 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: true-crime
****Eli Sanders won the Pulitzer Prize for his compassionate reporting about this crime.****

”They had feared him, and it was fear of a certain kind. Not the primal, salable fear of violence, not fright of the unexpected arriving with sudden brutality from an unknowable beyond. Theirs was fear of a known man and an outcome not yet known but likely to be grim. Fear of a person who, regrettably, had lived and delivered pain already, a man intelligent enough to impress yet with seemingly no handle o
Joseph Spuckler
Dec 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime
While the City Slept: Love Lost to Violence and a Young Man’s Descent into Violence by Eli Sanders is the account of violence and murder in a Seattle community. Eli Sanders is the associate editor of Seattle's weekly newspaper The Stranger. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 2012 for his reporting on the murder of Teresa Butz. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Seattle Times, The American Prospect, and Salon, among other publications.

I usually don’t read true crime bo
Dec 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Eli Sanders won a Pulitzer for his coverage of this horrific crime. And I must say, he truly deserves it.

Sanders carefully wove the facts of this crime together over years of research, fusing it with great respect not just for the victims and their families, but for the perpetrator and his family as well. I was deeply moved by the compassion that Sanders showed for everyone, no matter how much responsibility they held in this awful tragedy.

If only everyone felt the way he does, the world would
Dierdra McGill
Jan 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was contacted to do a review on this book in exchange for a free copy. This review is my own, and the five stars I have given this book are my own.
While the City Slept, is another book that tries to get readers aware of the massive problem that the United States has concerning the mentally ill. I read a lot of these books, and know firsthand what a problem this is, so I was very excited to get a chance to read this book.
In 2004 my uncle was released from prison, he had spent 17 years in prison
BAM The Bibliomaniac
I dont know why but I expected this to be much more detailed and explicit. I dont know what that says about me. This book also make me feel ashamed to be bipolar. I don't completely agree with that diagnosis.
Mar 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
I guess this shows that distinction in journalism doesn't necessarily translate to books. The theme centered around the flaws in how we as a society care of the mentally ill, and that is a worthy topic to explore. It was a sad story with many lives irreparably broken in the wake of Isaiah Kalebu's illness. Still the author's metaphorical analogy to the care for Duwamish River was awkward and there wasn't the call to action that I had expected.
Oct 30, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fbc-16
This book appealed to me because I enjoy both true crime and legal dramas, but they can be shoddily written and sensationalistic; this promised to be much better-written than the average true-crime fare, and it largely was. My problems with the book were threefold: (1) the background information about the characters, particularly the victims, was overlong and needless; (2) the criticisms of the legal / mental health system seem half-baked; and (3) most infuriatingly, Sanders was so coy about the ...more
Feb 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: true-crime
This book covers such an important issue, mental health being a cause of crime, but it was so tedious to get through. The book recounts the sexual assault of Jennifer Hopper and Theresa Butz with Theresa succumbing to her wounds. The ladies were sleeping when Isiah Kalebu broke into their home and attacked them. It was a very tragic crime made even more so by the fact that Isiah was so clearly mentally ill and had been for some time.

To understand how this could happen you have know a bit about t
Peter Andrus
Feb 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
Let me preface this review by saying that i am an AVID non-fiction fan. I am drawn to it so much I have a hard time reading fiction.

This book was SOOOOO boring. I put it down with about 90% of it read because I couldn't stand one more minute of the mundanity. I know many will counter with "Well, it did win a Pulitzer!" So what? It's BORING. I listened to the audiobook. I can't imagine making it as far as i did if I had read it. Maybe not even halfway.

The writing is thorough and extremely well
Oct 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book combined both true crime and the plea to adjust our justice system to keep crimes like this from happening. Parts reminded me of Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson in the sense that more must be done and crimes and violence can be prevented. This was a heartbreaking story that focused on so much more than the violent act of its center. It covers city planning, family, coming of age, mental illness, our court system, and more. Definitely a recommended piece of journalism if you're interested ...more
Feb 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: real-life-sh-t

I am not one to read non-fiction on crime but I decided to give this one a go because I had just finished binge watching “Making of a Murderer”. I think this book should have been made into a TV series instead of a book. There were so many moving parts, so many angles to cover that a lot of these issues that should have been looked at more in-depth was done on a surface level.

Yes, the book was well written, it is clear Sanders did a massive amount of research on this piece but sometimes I f
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-star-reads
I suppose it's important to start this review by saying, I live in Seattle, not very far from where the South Park attacks happened, and work in criminal justice in the city, so I'm well aware of what goes on in this City and County crime-wise. And I'll say that Seattle, for a city of it's size, is incredibly safe; we do not have much violent or person crime here, and while we worry, we still act as if this is a small town where people are nice. That all being said, I also remember clearly this ...more
May 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016, may-2016
I can't seem to get past my problem with this book. I want to embrace it and respect it and love it for being brave and harrowing and important and unflinching. Which it almost is, but in the end, he flinched. The author wants us to feel compassion for someone who was failed over and over again by the system until he committed a truly horrific crime and was locked away for life. And I'm willing to do that, but when it came right down to it he shies away from showing just how bad it was, which fe ...more
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, nonfiction
4.5. A fascinating and empathetic look at a "crime in progress". It details the lives of two innocent victims and their families (one victim dies in the attack). Sanders also looks at the person who committed this crime - a person who is deteriorating and decompensating mentally over a few years - and his family's own troublesome quarrels. The author argues that mental health treatment is insufficient in Washington state; that the crime was preventable if the assailant would've gotten treatment. ...more
Paul Pessolano
Dec 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
“While the City Slept” by Eli Sanders, published by Viking.

Category – True Crime Publication Date – February 02, 2016.

This book will be of great interest to those who like True Crime and should be required reading for those in the fields of psychology and psychiatry. It is also pertinent for those in the criminal justice system.

It is a difficult book to review because one finds it hard to begin with the murder or the murderer or the family or mental illness or the judicial system. All of these f
Nov 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
An excruciatingly tedious retelling of a "no doi" tragedy. A story probably best served by the news articles and probable editorials already in existence.
Sherri Silvera

I did this as an audio. Very interesting but the narrator was just ok for me and there were some dry parts. Overall worth the listen/read.
Feb 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-read
“While The City Slept: A Love Lost to Violence and a Young Man’s Decent into Madness” (2016) is a profound, compelling, unforgettable book: sequel to the Pulitzer Prize winning article “The Bravest Woman In Seattle” (2012) both authored by Eli Sanders, that recount the horrific incomprehensible crime that cost Teresa Butz her life after she and her partner Jennifer Hopper were brutalized in their Seattle South Park home on the morning of July 19, 2009. Sanders also critically exposes the Washing ...more
Dec 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
ARC for review.

A second subtitle for this book might well be "How the System Failed Three People" or, even more simply, "An American Crime.". Sanders won the Pulitzer for his coverage of this story and, though I haven't read the articles which won him the prize, there's definitely enough here for a book as the longer format allows us to really get to know Teresa Butz, Jennifer Hopper and Isaiah Kalebu - their lives, their families, their loves and, in Isaiah's case, the ways in which there was
Becky Loader
Mar 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
I remember the news stories about the attacks on these two women in Seattle. Because of the overload we get on such horrific stories, I didn't really pay much attention.

Teresa Butz, the woman murdered, is the sister of Norbert Leo Butz, one of my favorite actors. I didn't even realize that at the time.

Teresa and Jennifer were women who had been through a lot and had finally found a niche with each other in a funky neighborhood of Seattle. They had no idea that a mentally ill young man was about
Sep 11, 2016 rated it liked it
More accurately - 3.5 stars (c'mon Goodreads, add the half-star option for goodness sake). At it's best, this is a very insightful and easy-to-read scathing review and commentary on the underfunded and overwhelmed system created to care for persons with mental illness in Washington state by looking at one heinous crime/event from 2009. It will probably inspire you to take up the mantle of social change and fight for better mental health community networks, a revitalized criminal justice system, ...more
Apr 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Extensive and inclusive study of a crime. A crime that was beyond horrendous and perpetrated upon strangers by the murderer. It's a read that has myriads of endless details about the three prime characters' lives. The two victims and the murderer. And their eventual outcomes, as well.

And does it say something that the length of pages given to the murderer exceed by dozens the total for the other two. It does to me.

Beyond sad.
Hank Stuever
Feb 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A fine example of a reporter taking a story (in this case an unforgettably harrowing Pulitzer Prize-winning story) and digging deeper and deeper (meticulously, beautifully), tracing its ripples and ramifications back to its causes and starting points. I really admire what Eli Sanders has done here (disclosure: we're friends); often a reporter is tempted to go back to a memorable story and extend it into a book and that doesn't always work. This is how it's done.
A heartbreaking read with a powerful and compassionate call to action. The closing paragraphs were absolutely stunning.
Feb 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Total gut-punch. Review to come.
Feb 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Incredibly interesting (and profoundly disturbing) look at the American judicial system, and how it intersects with mental illness, seen through the eyes of one particular legal case and the participants (criminal, criminal's family, victims, lawyers, community, etc.). HIGHLY recommend to all readers who are interested in WHY mass killings and other violent crimes are often not "out of blue," but are instead the accumulation of a long history of someone with mental illness moving in and out of t ...more
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Pretty good, engrossing read.

The author covers the stories of three people: the perpetrator, Isaiah Kalebu, and his two victims, Teresa Butz and Jennifer Hopper, a couple who lived in the isolated South Park neighborhood of Seattle. Isaiah raped both Teresa and Jennifer, and murdered Teresa. Each of the three individuals' childhood/early adulthood is explored.

Importantly, there's a rightfully heavy emphasis on how many times and in how many ways our system failed Isaiah. We had every opportunit
♥ Marlene♥
Began reading this book and after a lot of details about the lives of the 2 women I thought the book would be nearly done. Then I discovered this was just the beginning. I had only read 30% of it. This way going overboard. For the killer there were even more pages where we hear about his life and how bad it was. His mum and sister tell the author how good he was and that when they wanted help they did not get it. (They were offered a lot of help when he was young but because of their culture the ...more
Jill Hutchinson
Sep 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
The title of this book is quite misleading as it appears to tell the story of murder and the search for the killer. Since this book was recommended to me by another GR member, I knew that it was not as it appeared. It is indeed about a murder but it is barely touched upon....instead it concentrates on the young man who committed it and the whys and wherefores of his violence. It is a study of how the behavioral health system in the US works.....basically it doesn't. We follow the life of the mu ...more
Rachel Kahn
Oct 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Was very excited to read this as soon as it came out. It did not disappoint, although parts of it became tedious at time (but, it chronicled a very lengthy trial, so--tedium to be expected).

I really enjoyed reading about Jennifer and Teresa. I thought that the author provided just the right amount of detail regarding the crime for an unknowing reader to get it, but was still respectful of it.

However, this book was a testament to the lack of mental health capacity and programs in WA state, whic
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Eli Sanders is the associate editor of Seattle's weekly newspaper The Stranger. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 2012 for his reporting on the murder of Teresa Butz. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Seattle Times, The American Prospect, and Salon, among other publications. Sanders lives in Seattle.
“Or, because we are not yet able to predict which of our children will become violent as adults, and may never be, that $3 million could have been used to provide seven struggling young people, including Isaiah, with once-a-week counseling over the same period. This is a core idea behind the so-called social safety net. Catch those in need, not knowing which of them, without help, will become much more destructive in the future and much more expensive to the rest of society.” 4 likes
“This is a core idea behind the so-called social safety net. Catch those in need, not knowing which of them, without help, will become much more destructive in the future and much more expensive to the rest of society. —” 2 likes
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